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Cross: A Novel (Jack Taylor Series) Hardcover – March 4, 2008

Book 6 of 10 in the Jack Taylor Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, March 2008: In Cross, the sixth book in Ken Bruen's brutal and brilliant Jack Taylor series, the Galway private investigator (think a more tortured and tragic--and Irish--Jack Reacher) is on the hunt for a psychopath, while his surrogate son/mentee, victim of a shooting meant to kill Jack, lies near death in a hospital. Fair warning: even for Bruen fans, this is seriously dark stuff (the killer crucifies one victim and burns another alive), brimming with violence, guilt, and a brooding morality akin to the best of Dennis Lehane. We have been in love with Bruen's sharp, spare prose since first stumbling across The Killing of the Tinkers, and we're certain that his dark, reluctant hero will draw many a hard-boiled fan from the likes of Jim Thompson and James Ellroy, as well new favorites Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski. --Daphne Durham

Questions for Ken Bruen Now that you’ve been writing about him for six books, how do you approach a new Jack Taylor novel. Do you think "I'm going to make this darker and grislier than the last?"

Bruen: I mostly think about how I'm going to keep him fresh and interesting and deepen his character, I don't deliberately try to be dark, it's the way he is. What is the best thing about writing about a character like Jack Taylor? Who would win in a fight, Brant or Taylor?

Bruen: He continually surprises me and I get to see how deep the abyss can be. Brant would easily win the fight: Jack would be getting ready and Brant would just instantly take him down. Clearly you are a big reader, you reference books so often in your novels. What books or authors do you find yourself recommending to readers again and again?

Bruen: C.J. Box, Jason Starr, Daniel Woodrell, Megan Abbot, and Vicki Hendricks are among my favorites. Is there an author or artist you've read or listened to lately whose work surprised or inspired you?

Bruen: Elizabeth Zelvin is the light to Jack's dark. Craig McDonald wrote a hell of a debut. Alex Sokoloff scares the living daylights out of me. Louise Ure...she is just poetry in motion. Tom Piccirilli--the man is noir personified. Alan Flynn is going to be huge and find lots of readers outside of Scotland. If you had to give up books or music for one year which would you give up?

Bruen: Music. I can live with silence reading? Shoot me now. How would you describe your work to someone who has no idea what you do?

Bruen: Imagine terrible circumstances that will make you laugh out loud and then want to hang yourself. Best of all, when you're a writer, you can read the work with little effort; it comes over like a chat in your favorite pub. It's like a kick in the head and a blast of Jameson, no ice, with a group of friends who are going to keep you right on the edge.

(photo credit: Andrew Downes)

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Shamus-winner Bruen's brilliant sixth Jack Taylor novel (after 2007's Priest), the tormented Galway detective feels like a ghost in a newly prosperous city that little resembles his birthplace. Years of alcoholic dissipation have taken their toll. Jack's apprentice and surrogate son, Cody, lies in hospital, the victim of bullets meant for Jack. His only real friend is Ridge, a lesbian Ban Gardai (female cop), and their relationship is a complicated mixture of affection and hostility. Jack decides to cut his losses and move to America, but first he agrees to help Ridge solve a series of heinous murders. A young man's crucifixion is followed by his sister being burned to death. As Jack investigates, he squares off against a 20-year-old girl whose grief over her religious fanatic mother's death in a hit-and-run accident has become a black insanity that demands biblical vengeance. Bruen riffs on different meanings and implications of the word cross throughout, and his insights into pain, loss and Irishness are unforgettable. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jack Taylor Series (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312341423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312341428
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #824,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

He makes you feel the pain and in a strange way it is uplifting.
Victor E
One of the plot threads in Cross was a bit too predictable, but it's still a lean, mean, beautifully written book.
Cathy G. Cole
The story is touching, thought provoking and at times depressing, but well worth the read.
V. Kennedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on June 12, 2007
First Sentence: It took them a time to crucify the kid.

There is a lot going on in Jack Taylor's life. He is off the drink; thinking of selling his apartment and moving to the US.

The young man, who became his protégée, and who Jack came to love as a son, is in a coma having taken a gunshot meant for Jack. Now another ex-Guarda, fired for drunkenness, comes asking for work so Jack sets him off on a case of dog-napping. And current Guarda friend, Ridge, asks Jack's help on a case where a young man has been crucified.

Bruen's writing is incomparable. Jack reminds me of a car stuck on the rail tracks with the train coming; you don't want to watch but can't turn away in desperate hope he get off before the train hits. You feel his desperate attempts to improve his situation but life constantly challenges his resolve. No matter what, Jack is one of the most compelling characters I read. Bruen also gives the reader a real sense of being Irish, including the religious, cultural and historic influences on their lives. On the flyleaf of Cross it says "Do not expect to put it down unscathed." As opposed to be usual marketing hype, I'd say that's a true statement for reading any of the Jack Taylor books. They may not be for everyone because of the profanity and violence, but I find them exceptional.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on March 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jack Taylor has gone through a lot in his native Galway, Ireland, causing distress to many as well as himself in the previous five books in the series. In the current novel, he continues to suffer, especially since he maintains his sobriety and contemplates leaving Ireland altogether for the United States.

But first he has to solve some killings and bring justice to the killers. While he wanders around seeking clues, we are treated to the dark corners of Galway and insight into the development of the city and its people. The author's ability to let us look into Taylor's psyche is unique, as is his writing and descriptions. The book is definitely different, but is highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Galway detective Jack Taylor feels his past has caught up with him as the years of boozing has wracked his body. A loner due to his alcoholism, he is emotionally shattered when his apprentice Cody was shot when Jack was the intended victim. Jack decides it is time to cross the pond and start anew in America.

While Cody remains in the hospital, Jack's solo friend lesbian Gardai Ridge persuades him to help her on a monstrous series of murders. The first victim was crucified alive followed by the burning at the stake of his sister. Jack's investigation leads him to a grieving twenty year old woman screaming for fire and brimstone against those involved in a hit and run that killed her bible thumping mother.

The Jack Taylor Irish thrillers are some of the most exciting tales on the market, but CROSS may be the best yet as Ken Bruen plays brilliant word games with connotations, denotations, and implications of the title word. The story line is filled with action yet enables the reader to know Jack who personally understands crippling grief as he believes suffering is as Irish as stew.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
First Line: It took them a time to crucify the kid.

Jack Taylor, free for the moment from drugs, booze and nicotine, would also like to be free of any sort of human involvement. He has a good reason for feeling this way: he brings pain and death to everyone he loves. His surrogate son, Cody, is lying in the hospital in a coma, and Jack visits everyday-- touching Cody, talking to him, trying to coax him back among the living.

In the meantime, dogs are going missing in a Galway neighborhood and one of the residents wants to hire Jack to find out what is happening. Ridge, his old friend from the Guards, lets her hair down. It seems she has a lump in her breast, and she's having a horrible time coping with all the males in the police force. When Jack says something about helping her, she then tells him that a boy has been found crucified, and if he could steer her to the killer, it could mean a promotion and better working conditions, and Jack can't say no.

It seems that everyone wants something from Jack, and he isn't sure he has anything left to give. At this point, the thought of disappearing sounds wonderful.

I normally have little patience for characters who are alcoholics or druggies. I can find alcoholics in my own family, and I have never ever understood the allure of drugs. However, depression I can understand, and Jack has more than his share. Through everything, his books have been the only friends who've never deserted him, and I can understand that, too. Perhaps that's why I cut Jack Taylor slack when I won't so many other characters in the same situation. I honestly don't know.

"As the barman put the drinks down, I wondered if I should ask him his name.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clarice on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
There's something about Ken Bruen's writing that keeps me coming back for more. I've read a bunch of the Jack Taylor books in the last few years and this is one of my favorites, because I think it shows what Bruen does best: hard-edged cynicism (cynic = disappointed idealist), his verbal sparring with people who get on his nerves, his refusal to have sunshine blown up his bunghole or to deal with b.s., nonsense, lies, or spin of any type. Jack Taylor calls it as he sees it, and that's refreshing. And I should point out that I tend to avoid books featuring alcoholic characters, especially those in recovery, as they often smack of self-pity or self-congratulation. In CROSS, we see a man struggling and getting up again each time life smacks him down. Jack Taylor himself is a huge fan of music, and though I've not seen a reference to it any of these books, his theme song should be Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping."

I think that a Ken Bruen book is often greater than the sum of its parts. Despite three interweaving story lines, there's very little detection and almost no mystery, just a lot of rainy Galway and some fabulous one-liners like the one in the title of this review (Jack Taylor describing his "nemesis," Father Malachy). And yet there's something about these books that sucks me in and forces me into Galway and a series of characters I'd avoid like the plague in real life.

Another thing struck me as I was reading CROSS: that Jack Taylor's approach to Galway is similar to Precious Ramotswe's view of Botswana. Both long for a simpler time where bonds of community remained intact and greed did not rule the world. Now that would be quite a short story: Jack Taylor meets Precious Ramotswe. I bet they'd end up the best of friends. But Jack and Grace Makutsi would be at loggerheads from the get-go....
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